It would seem that Cody Rhodes became somewhat of a liability before he left AEW according to a new report, which also claims he became disgruntled when he stopped being one of the company’s highest-earning wrestlers.
Many top-level stars made the move to All Elite Wrestling throughout 2021, including the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole and bringing with them an increased wage bill for the company.
These new recruits reportedly being given similar or higher contracts than anyone else in the organisation meant that the previous top earners such as Cody Rhodes moved down the financial pecking order.
A new report from Wade Keller at Pro Wrestling Torch claims that this financial disparity played at least some role on Cody Rhodes decision to leave AEW, when he was not offered the sort of package he wanted from Tony Khan.
It’s weird, because if it was nine months ago…Tony might have signed him for what Cody was asking for, or at least negotiated in good faith to a reasonable compromise. But Cody became a bit of a liability, Tony publicly would say, and he told me [that] ‘Cody still drives numbers, so I’m okay.’ But that’s not the biggest compliment.
It’s not like, ‘Oh, I love Cody, and we’re on the same page.’ I was just like, well, you know, the undercurrent of what he said was, ‘yeah, he’s a headache, and every segment is a car wreck, but he’s still drawing numbers. So I guess I’m okay with it for now?’ Like, that’s how I read. — I kind of read between the lines on his choice of wording.
I think the segment with Brandi two weeks ago did not help, didn’t belong on TV. It was just a disaster. But there’s been a lot going on with Cody. Pre pandemic, Cody was at the forefront of production meetings and, and really involved…
Keller went on to discuss how the influx of stars didn’t just change the financial situation, but also what power Cody Rhodes had within the company. He was no longer one of a few people at the highest level, but one of many.
But Cody wanted to be a superstar, and AEW signing big money contracts, especially with Bryan Danielson and CM Punk, changed the dynamic to a degree with Cody. And I’m not saying this wouldn’t have happened if that didn’t happen.
But Cody knew and Tony knew that Cody became expendable. You know, he went from a clear essential top tier guy, top four talent in the company. And you know, Cody was fine obviously with Moxley being signed, and with Jericho being signed. Jericho was a huge boon to the AEW brand at the beginning. And Moxley was a great acquisition and disgruntled with WWE and not really a threat to Cody, because he was just so different than Cody, even if they’re not too far off in age.
But Danielson and Punk and then Adam Cole to a lesser extent, changed things certainly more than Malakai Black or Miro or Christian changed things. And it did give Tony a sense of ‘I have enough top guys and then young guys on the rise’ that it took some leverage away from Cody, in terms of ‘you need me pay me’ and there’s only so much salary cap room that Tony has to spread around. And he had the good fortune to have Punk and Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole become available to him, but they were expensive.
Cody was no longer a top paid guy. And my understanding is he wanted to be and to a degree that just wasn’t seen by Tony as what he was worth to him in the current landscape. But it’s complicated and there’s not a single factor that plays into this because Cody might have been worth it if he weren’t getting booed and he wasn’t the subject of ridicule online and in buildings and frankly, behind the scenes in various ways.
The report also claims that ‘The American Nightmare’ Cody Rhodes started travelling by his own private bus, and whilst he would get involved in discussions of ideas and feedback he was more withdrawn from the locker room than he had been in the past.
Having officially left AEW on 15th February 2022, it is being reported that Cody Rhodes’ representatives have already been in touch with WWE officials about a shocking return.
With thanks to WrestlingNews.co for the transcription.